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Secondary Education Major Learns to be Creative, Adaptable from Professors

An Education student posing in a classroom for her picture

Meagan Holder ‘22 couldn’t wait to get back in the classroom—but a year of pandemic-learning made her a better teacher-to-be.

One student wouldn’t stop talking. Another wandered away mid-lesson. Meagan Holder ’22 powered through, got the students back on track, and kept a smile on her face—all over Zoom.

The distracting students weren’t 6th or 7th graders; they were Holder’s York College of Pennsylvania classmates, doing their best to simulate the challenges they might face as future teachers. It’s just one of the ways her professors have gotten creative through the pandemic to make sure she and her classmates get the experience they need to be successful.

And if you ask Holder, it’s working. “The faculty has been amazing,” she says. “Instead of what can’t you do, it’s what can you do?”

Heading into her senior year as a Secondary Education Mathematics major, she looked forward to being back on campus for the first time since her sophomore year. Despite the challenges of learning to teach through a pandemic, her experience at York College has her ready to tackle whatever comes her way.

A connection to faculty

Holder wasn’t even sure she wanted to be a teacher when she visited York College as part of a teacher education day through her high school. By the time she left, she knew she’d found her place. The Education professors made her feel welcome, like they cared about her success. “I really felt connected to the faculty after that day,” she says.

The small class sizes at York College helped ease her nerves about going to college and made it easy to get to know her professors. “Through it all, it’s been really nice to have professors that know my name, that know my face, that say hello in the hall,” she says. “Every time I was in class with a professor, they were looking for opportunities to help me grow as a student and as a teacher.”

That’s how she became a tutor and a First Year Seminar Fellow—one of her professors suggested it and connected her with the program. Both have helped her hone her teaching skills. “I really do feel like this program gets you energized and excited to teach,” she says.

All about the kids

Holder has no illusion: Math is not a favorite subject for a lot of kids. But, she just happens to be good at it, and thinks she’ll be able to get through to her students. “I’m hoping I can foster an environment where students are excited,” she says.

Designing curriculum to get students excited and engaged is a major focus at York College. Her professors practice what they preach—using station rotations, big sticky notepads on the walls, little things to make learning more engaging and fun. “All my education classes have been my favorite classes at York College,” she says.

Although she’s excited to teach the material, her purpose as a teacher is more about the students than the math. “It’s about fostering a positive environment, especially for kids who might not have a positive environment at home,” she says.

Putting it all together

Senior year as a Secondary Education major means a major milestone—a full semester of student teaching. The idea of being in charge of a whole classroom is a little intimidating, but she’s had opportunities to create smaller lessons throughout her time at York College, helping her build up her skills and confidence.

Holder can’t wait to get back in the classroom, to interact with students and do what she loves. Once she graduates, she hopes to get a job making math fun and exciting for 7th or 8th graders in York County.

And that year spent learning over Zoom? “In some ways it’s kind of a blessing in disguise,” she says. “We definitely learned one thing, and that’s to be adaptable.”